If anyone understands the need to tackle the scourge of domestic and family violence, it’s survivor Simone O’Brien.
The mother of three almost died after being attacked repeatedly with a baseball bat by her former partner and still requires regular medical treatment.
Speaking at the official launch of the Gold Coast SUNS “Round to RizeUp” game against St Kilda this Saturday, O’Brien said it will help create awareness and educate the community around prevention.
“We need to get out and speak up and that’s what I am doing now. We can help each other by looking out for little red flags in relationships and teaching young children,” she said.
“We have already lost 13 women this year. We need to make a change, we need to tell the next generation that domestic violence isn’t a taboo subject to talk about.
“The Gold Coast SUNS have made that next step and joined with the charity RizeUp who do amazing work - it brings some emotion to me because the awareness is getting out there.”
O’Brien was joined by fellow RizeUp patron and Queensland league great, Petero Civoniceva, who said the charity helps families coming out of desperate, dangerous situations and puts them into safe, fully-fitted out homes.
“Obviously, I am from a different code but I am very proud of what the SUNS are doing here supporting RizeUp. I encourage all supporters to get out and support the SUNS this weekend and remember that being at the game will support RizeUp.
“I have been a patron for five years and unfortunately my support is getting more and more because family and domestic violence is a very real issue in our community now.
“We need the wider community to step up and acknowledge there is a real problem. People need to support organisations like RizeUp.”
SUNS CEO Mark Evans said the recent death of Kelly Wilkinson showed everyone needed to play a part in stopping this national problem.
He said the club’s Major Charity Partner, RizeUp Australia, was focused on generating life-changing, practical support for affected families.
“This game was always going to take place in May as part of family and domestic violence month, but it takes on even more significance for our community given the heartbreaking story of Kelly Wilkinson,” he said.
“We are really pleased to be raising awareness, and hopefully some money, so we can prevent some of these things from happening into the future.
“Members and fans attending the Round 8 SUNS clash can donate when they buy a ticket, donate at the ground, or they can donate or volunteer directly to RizeUp.
“For every $5,000 raised, RizeUp can create a new home with all the items to take someone from an unsafe environment and give them a safe environment.”